Feeds

China's rare earth policy backs Apple into a corner

Report says fondleslabs factories are located near source

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Apple’s shiny fondleslabs are made in China not only because of the low cost of labour in the People’s Republic but also due to the surging prices and tightening export restrictions on rare earth minerals which the nation has a near monopoly on, according to a report.

Although Apple has been notoriously secretive about the materials it uses to produce the iconic tablet, tech repair site ifixit.org spoke to Cambridge professor Tim Coombs who reckons the fondleslab could be packed with the rare minerals.

First up there could be lanthanum in the device’s lithium-ion polymer battery, while the magnets along the side and in the cover were pegged as containing neodymium alloy, followed by a selection of rare earths to produce the different colours in the display, he said.

Apple didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment from The Reg but considering the near-ubiquity of rare earth minerals in modern tech kit and the famously huge margins Cupertino manages to make on its shiny toys, the story does make sense.

As the report suggests, manufacturing the device at or closer to the source of these rare minerals would circumvent China’s increasingly tight export quotas and cut costs pretty significantly.

The problem of supply and demand with these seemingly vital components is only going to get worse, with China – which has a global market share of around 97 per cent – cutting back on the mining of rare minerals apparently due to environmental reasons.

The EU, Japan and US have all lodged complaints with the World Trade Organisation, but as we’ve said before, there is little the body can do legally to compel China to change its mind.

In the meantime, as the economics become even more pressing and supply lines are tightened, more technology manufacturing plants could relocate to the People’s Republic.

Japanese firm Hitachi recently unveiled what it claimed to be a rare mineral-free electric motor.

However, little progress has been made elsewhere in either finding alternative ways to produce tech kit without the precious minerals or finding alternative deposits of minerals outside the People’s Republic. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Lords take revenge on REVENGE PORN publishers
Jilted Johns and Jennies with busy fingers face two years inside
Yes, yes, Steve Jobs. Look what I'VE done for you lately – Tim Cook
New iPhone biz baron points to Apple's (his) greatest successes
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.